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Electoral Bias and Policy Choice:Theory and Evidence

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  • Timothy Besley
  • Ian Preston

Abstract

This paper develops a new approach to study how electoral bias in favor of one party due to the pattern of districting affects policy choice. We tie a commonly used measure of districting bias to the theory of party competition and show how this affects policy choice in theory. The utility of the approach is illustrated using data on local government in the U.K. The results suggest that reducing electoral bias leads parties to moderate their policies.
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Suggested Citation

  • Timothy Besley & Ian Preston, 2006. "Electoral Bias and Policy Choice:Theory and Evidence," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 17, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  • Handle: RePEc:cep:stipep:17
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    File URL: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/dps/pepp/PEPP17.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
    2. Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2007. "Socially Optimal Districting: A Theoretical and Empirical Exploration," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1409-1471.
    3. Besley, Timothy J. & Persson, Torsten & Sturm, Daniel M, 2005. "Political Competition and Economic Performance: Theory and Evidence from the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 5138, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Stephen Coate & Brian Knight, 2005. "Socially Optimal Districting," NBER Working Papers 11462, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, January.
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    7. George Stigler, 1972. "Economic competition and political competition," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 91-106, September.
    8. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
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    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:87:y:1993:i:04:p:856-869_10 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:71:y:1977:i:01:p:166-176_25 is not listed on IDEAS
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    14. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661314, January.
    15. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:04:p:1251-1273_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Rogers, Diane Lim & Rogers, John H, 2000. "Political Competition and State Government Size: Do Tighter Elections Produce Looser Budgets?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 105(1-2), pages 1-21, October.
    17. Ron Johnston & Colin Rallings & Michael Thrasher, 2002. "Electoral success, electoral bias, and Labour hegemony: electoral system effects in English metropolitan boroughs," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 34(7), pages 1303-1317, July.
    18. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
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